A open letter to a high-school cross country captain

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Dear Captain,

I was in your shoes once. Your teammates voted you into this position, or your coach thought you were good for the job…no matter how you got here, I know how you’re feeling. You’re asking yourself questions. “How did I get picked for this? What do I need to do to be a good captain? How do I be a captain and a good runner at the same time?” Being a captain is such an interesting space to occupy because not only are you expected to lead the team, you also are the person who non-runners will look to as representing the essence of “cross-country”. Along with these duties, of course, you are also expected to continue to perform well and improve, and at this point, you may be wondering how that is possible.

Now, in the spring, is a good time to start thinking about the words you want to embody as a captain. Think of the qualities you want your teammates, and your teammates parents, to relate to you. Remember that there are different kinds of captains too. You don’t have to be the vocal, authoritative captain to be a good leader, although most teams have at least one leader of that sort. You can be a quiet leader, modeling a good work ethic and embodying the spirit of your team by example. Or, you can fill the much needed position of a good set of listening ears, because we all know cross country is about so much more than running hills. Practice may be the only space where many of the girls on your team feel completely comfortable because they know they have people there who will listen without judgment and love them unconditionally. I think that if there is anything a captain needs to project, it is love, both for themselves and for others.

There are other concerns you may be having about stepping into this role as well. One of my big worries in coming into my captain-ship was if I would be able to continue to race as well as I had in the past and score for varsity. On the outside, it seems like so much emotional work that the two can’t work concurrently, but in reality, it takes an inside point of view to understand how well being a captain and being a runner work together. I have a secret to tell you: you are as much your own captain as you are your team’s captain. When you give the pep talk and pray in your huddle for your team, those words are strengthening your legs and heart as well. When you tell your teammate to roll out an injury, remind yourself that injury prevention is just as important for you. And when you congratulate your team after a great race, pat yourself on the back too. Being captain is such a beautiful thing because it is one of the only places where it is appropriate to say out loud the things you need to hear (chances are, the rest of your team needs to hear it too).

Basically what I’m trying to say is one of my mom’s classic lines. “You can do hard things. What in your experience has shown you that you can’t do this now?” Even though I hear this so much from my mom, I still love it because it means different things in each situation. As a cross-country captain in high school, this meant to me that having a multifaceted job was not a reason for me not to do something. We are all multifaceted people. We have a variety of strengths and passions, so having a position such a being a team captain is perhaps the most perfect thing for us to develop as well rounded people. I am so excited for you to begin this journey in leadership. Stay humble and do what is in the best interest of the team, and I promise you will go far.

Love, Emily


3 Common College Nutrition Mistakes You Didn’t Think Of

We’ve all heard of the “freshman 15”. Unlimited access to food, an open schedule, no pressure to eat grandma’s green beans…who doesn’t gain a few pounds during their first year of college? I personally did gain a few pounds (not quite 15, probably about 5) when I started college last semester. Now, I can speculate for days how this happened. Weight training? Navigating the greasy dining hall food? Simply eating too much? The fact that I also grew 2 inches in one semester? (I know, right!) Speculation aside, beyond the weight-gain that many people experience when starting college, there are so many other common nutrition issues you can run into that don’t have to do with gaining weight.

In this post, I am going to detail a few nutrition issues that I personally experienced while I was trying to figure out how to eat in college. I think that these, more than the freshman 15, are important to be mindful of, especially if you are a student athlete with a packed schedule.

Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

Not eating enough protein

This is a tough one, especially depending on the dining hall situation at your school. As runners, it is important to remember that we need slightly more protein than the average person. A good way to figure out how much protein you need is to multiply your body weight by a number between 0.45-0.72, depending on if you are trying to build muscle and how active you are. The resulting number is the number of grams of protein you need in a day. I, for example, would need about 66 grams of protein if I gave myself a mid-range multiplier.

My issue when starting school, besides not really understanding the importance of protein, was that my dining hall didn’t always have good lean protein options. I’ve always had a pretty high sensitivity to fat content in food, (high-fat foods make me feel sick) so it is often difficult to find good protein sources when a lot of dishes included a fatty protein. When my dining hall didn’t have any grilled chicken or lean meat, a lot of times I would skip out on a protein altogether, leaving me hungry later in the day.

One easy way to avoid this issue, however, is to diversify your protein sources. Find a few non-meat options you like in your dining hall with high protein contents. These can include beans and chickpeas, tofu, lentils, (Ethiopian food!!) quinoa, green peas, and sprouted-grain breads. If you can’t find anything in the dining hall, you can also stock up on high-protein bars and breads at the grocery store, but be careful to avoid excessive sugar alcohols. Any bar that advertises a sketchy low sugar content should be avoided. Also a side note- avoid the ThinkThin bars! I know the protein content is enticing, but all that sugar alcohol will give you major GI issues, I promise. Here is a great, informative list of good and bad protein bars.

Skipping meals

I always say there are two types of people when it comes to school assignments. First, there are people like my boyfriend Grant, who are great at breaking up work and managing time spent studying over multiple days. Then, there are people like me, who much prefer going 100 miles per hour over a short period of time to get stuff done. This method of doing work was fine in high school when I had a structured day, broken up by meals, classes, afternoon practice, and family dinner. At college however, I found it all too easy to skip lunch in favor of getting work done between my morning and afternoon classes.

At first, I played this issue off by saying it was because I ate a big breakfast, but in reality, skipping lunch was creating a bad imbalance in my energy system, and I was always starving during dinner and late at night. Luckily, this is an easy issue to fix if you recognize it early and make sure to make three meals per day a priority for you.

One way to make sure you can always have a substantial lunch, even if you are on the go, is by making a stack of sandwiches in the dining hall to keep in your fridge for a few days in case you don’t have time to stop for food. Just pack one in your backpack at the beginning of the day just to be safe! Another staple on my campus especially is to always order a foot-long if you go to Subway for lunch or dinner. You can eat half now and then save the other half for a quick meal on the go. If you don’t like sandwiches, another great option is to pack a salad shaker or mason jar salad. Just because you’re going to college doesn’t mean packing lunch has to end!

Overdoing the sweets

We all can probably work on this one, college or not, but I think this is especially important to keep in mind with all of the free handouts in college. Especially during your freshman orientation and during Greek philanthropy weeks, there will be tons of free donuts, cookies, candy, etc. And if you’re at my school, there are always a ton of cookies from campus ministry! The best way to avoid overdoing dessert, which can leave you feeling bloated and crummy, is to control your portion size, or take whatever they’re offering, but save it for later. They’re handing out mini donuts? Maybe just take one. Cookies? Grab three, but save them for those days next week when you really need a chocolate fix.

So, as you can see, there are way more important nutritional things to consider in college than just the freshman 15! Keeping these three common issues in mind can keep you feeling good even as your schedule and diet have to change when you go to school. Plus, mindful eating, in general, will most likely ward off any extra pounds. Thanks for reading! If you like EvenPace, subscribe to email updates using the form to the right. Also, check out EvenPace on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

One year of EvenPace: reflections and looking ahead

Feeling strong in my new Fabletics top! The “Girl Almighty” capsule collection supports the Girl Up SchoolCycle program, which donates bikes to school-aged girls in developing countries.

It’s January 6th, and that means EvenPace celebrates it’s first birthday today! I can’t believe that I’ve already spent one year in the blogosphere, and as I was looking back on some old posts a few days ago, I realize that this blog has changed so much since I started. Besides figuring out what “EvenPace” really means to me, I feel that I have grown exponentially both as a person and as a writer since I took the leap and started sharing my writing with the world.

The meaning of “EvenPace”

If you go back to my earliest posts, from January 2018, you’ll see that EvenPace wasn’t always a place of reflection, interviews, and running philosophy. At first, this blog was just a log of my runs. I would record the distance, mile-splits, and at the end of the post, I would give myself a rating for how even my splits were throughout my run. I almost forgot that that’s where the name “EvenPace” came from. You can click here to look back on my cute first post from January last year. Oh how far I have come since then! As simple as my first posts were, I still cherish them and the name of this blog because they come from my deep love for the sport of running.

In high school, my coach would award little pins after our meets. There were pins if you got first, second, or third place, a pin for essentially the team’s “MVP” for the race, and my favorite, the Even Pace pin. I was not usually my team’s fastest runner. I cherished the pack of girls that I raced with, and we did very well as a team during my time there and this past year, but I never chased first place during the cross country season (I did during the 3200m, but I definitely didn’t love that as much as I loved XC!). Something I did love, however, was when I won that Even Pace pin. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing splits within a few seconds of each other after a race, or better yet, negative splits. To me, being able to run even splits is the epitome of what I strive for as a runner, which is the ability to control my body and produce consistent results. Being able to throw down the same fast mile after you have already run it multiple times takes a level of willpower and mental aptitude that I think can only be learned in our sport. Thus, EvenPace is not really about becoming the best you can be or training to be the fastest runner possible, but rather learning to know and love yourself as an athlete and as a person. In combination, passion, trust in oneself, and discipline produce champions in each and every one of us.

Beyond finding direction as a writer, during this past year, I have learned so much about blogging and the blogging community. Sites like Bloglovin’ and some of my favorite health bloggers on Instagram have given me inspiration for what I want EvenPace to become. What I love about the holistic health blogging community is that it is so diverse, with people coming from different backgrounds and sports, yet we all share a common passion for balanced living. Plus, all bloggers, even the most successful, started at the same place I am now, with a small number of readers and a fire for writing in their hearts. That knowledge inspires me every day.

Best of 2018

Here are some of my favorite posts from last year.

Musings: Goals and Reflections for Track

“The last thing I said to our squad was to run like nobody could take away our special day, and to never resign to anything less than the goals we came there to achieve.” 

My first interview for Runners of KC: Chris Cornell

“There are a lot of different running groups, there are a lot of different running coaches, there are a lot of different stores-I feel like people are finding identities all over the place….It’s all so young and we’re finding new ways to build and help each other grow. All boats rise with the tide.” -Cornell 

Learning to be a whole person as a college runner

“What I just told you is my running life. But it’s not my whole life. And that is what I didn’t realize I was signing up for when I signed for a Division II school.” 

Two other favorites:

Exploring options for college running

My only recipe post: my classic, 2-ingredient banana pancakes!

Looking ahead…

I can’t even begin to tell you all of my hopes and aspirations for this blog in the next 365 days! I can, however, share what I hope for my running career as well as things I want to improve upon in my blogging endeavors. As a runner, my biggest goal for 2019 is to simply learn to better manage my mind. I’m done with being anxious before every race. The other day I was finishing up a run when it dawned upon me that I only have 3 more seasons of cross country. I want to make the most of them. One big and more tangible goal I have by the end of my career is to be all-conference in the GLVC 6k, which I think I can achieve by learning to manage my stress and “crack the code” for racing the 6k.

In the blogosphere, some big goals I have for the next year are to continue posting regularly, on Sundays and Wednesdays. Additionally, I’m really excited to continue my Runners of KC series and do a lot more interviews. Other small things I am working on are building up my Pinterest and being more active on Instagram.

To all of you who are reading this, I just want to say thank you so much for being part of the EvenPace family! I’d like to give a special thanks to my high school running friends, my coaches, and my current team for being the best running community I ever could have asked for. I wouldn’t be writing today if cross country hadn’t left an outstanding impression on me at my first summer practice three years ago. Without the wonderful cross country girls at west high, I might still be in ballet class (no offense, COCA is life!). Thanks for showing me the way.

EvenPace Official Guide: Winter Running Essentials

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As we approach the end of 2018, (I can’t believe it’s already over!) it is a great time to reflect on your running accomplishments from the past year, as well as goals for next year. In a few days, to celebrate the approaching one year anniversary of EvenPace, I’ll share some highlights from this past year of running, as well as my aspiration for the next 365 days.

One easy thing you can do now, however, to make 2019 your best running year yet, is start thinking about what you can do to improve the limited “material” aspects of your running experience: your gear! To start you off on a good foot (literally!) today I want to share with you all my ultimate winter running essentials! These are some products that I think can help make winter running comfortable and enjoyable, no matter how cold it is. Let’s dive in! Everything in this list is also general and can be very cost effective; there’s no need to get a specific brand.

Full zip down puffer vest

Of all the items in my winter running wardrobe, this is by far the most important. I have a simple white puffer vest from Costco that I think I got about 3 years ago, and I run in it almost every day if its colder than 40 degrees outside. Puffer vests are awesome because they add quick warmth and a layer of heat close to your body without weighing you down. Just pop one on over a long sleeve shirt and you probably won’t even need a jacket!

Last week, I ran up by my grandparents’ house in Chicago and I got super chilly on the way back from each run because I had forgotten to pack my vest. The issue is that hoodies and jackets are awesome for warmth until they get wet with sweat. Whats great about a vest, however, is that the down or fluffy material inside stays warm no matter what and makes a bubble of heat around your body. The zipper can also act like a thermostat; you can simply zip up and down depending on how you are feeling, and if it is way to hot, you can simply take it off and drop it off or leave it on your running belt if you run with one (I love mine!).

A puffer vest doesn’t need to be expensive to be good; in fact, I don’t think you need to pay more than $40 for a good one. Here is a good option from FILA.

7/8ths length leggings

I first tried running in this type of legging a few weeks ago and I absolutely love them! I think running in tights or leggings is a must when it gets cooler than about 45 degrees, not because they necessarily keep you warmer, but because they prevent windburn. 7/8th length leggings are especially great if you’re on the shorter side like I am, and leggings tend to bunch at your ankles and fall down.

I love these because they stop before your ankle, but aren’t too cropped, allowing freedom while still being warm. Currently, my favorite running leggings are actually from Fabletics! They’re cost effective and I love the inclusive sizing, which ranges from XXS to XXL, which makes it easy to size down if your leggings tend to fall down on runs, or size up if you like a roomier feel. Plus, they’re the same high quality you would expect from Athleta or Lululemon, but half of the cost.

Thermal long-sleeve base-layers

Another staple of my winter running wardrobe are thermal long sleeve shirts. These usually fit close to the skin and do their best to stay warm even if they get wet from sweat. I think these are especially important because even though cotton shirts are fine in transitional weather, during the winter, wearing one under another jacket is a sure fire way to end up shivering and with a stretched out shirt by the end of a run. If you can’t find thermal base-layers (UnderArmour is the hands down the best for thermal gear), your next best bet for under jackets and vests are tight performance fabrics. Here is my favorite thermal UA top, and here is another non-thermal favorite from Oiselle.

Fleece headband with ear coverage

A little while ago I mentioned in a post how girls don’t have good heat distribution to the extremities…and that includes our ears! I have two fleece headbands that I absolutely love. One is a piece of merch from the high school cross country state race one year, and the other is a super warm Patagonia number (that one gets super hot though, not for the faint of heart). Besides keeping my ears warm, I love these headbands because they provide the warmth of a hat without the bulk or the awkward ponytail situation. Additionally, these are great for flattening those dry winter frizzies I get from wearing my hair up to run, and easily can be tucked into a running belt if you get too warm! Overall, a win-win, and this is another thing you can get for relatively cheap.

Ankle socks

If I could have another tagline for this blog, which describes my running philosophy best, it would be “nerd socks are the best socks!” Seriously though, if you haven’t tried ankle socks for running , you have to give them a chance. Ankle socks add a whole new level of support and comfort to your feet, along with keeping your ankles warmer in the winter. Additionally, ankle socks are great if you’re running in light snow or mud because they can deflect puddles and water a little better than if you are wearing no-show socks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten gravel stuck in my shoes wearing short socks on the Trolley Trail in Kansas City.

If you’re looking for a good place to start with ankle socks, I recommend my two favorite brands, SmartWool and Rockay, which have really high quality products. Most of my socks are SmartWool, which is a great company for socks of varying thicknesses and lengths based on your preferences. Rockay is a new company with a great arch-support design that I love, and slightly better prices, although most good running socks are pretty expensive in general.

Is it crazy that I’m missing this hot, muggy weather?

Thank you for checking out this post! Just a disclaimer: there are no affiliate links in this post and no sponsorships, just an honest opinion from your neighborhood runner girl! Happy New Year, EvenPacers!

5 Things Every Runner Girl Needs to Hear

1. Even pros feel rusty after time off.

With cross country regionals long over and the indoor season starting up, many of you may be faced with that uncomfy period of time off followed by that even more uncomfy few weeks of “learning how to run again”. If those first 3, 4, 5, or 10 runs feel heavy and slow, or if you start to forget why you liked running in the first place, don’t worry! Even the pros feel rusty after time off. Many professional as well as recreational runners take time off, whether it is at the end of a season, due to an injury, or to have children, and all will tell you that getting back into it is difficult. Your body might feel icky and tired at first, but remember that so much of the joy of running is regaining that feeling of beautiful control that you have on a really good run. Keep chasing after that runners high until you find it again!

2. Running shoes aren’t your only piece of gear with a limited lifespan…

Brooks says that no sports bra should celebrate a birthday. It’s so sad! But seriously, I’m so terrible about abiding by this rule, simply because I have so many memories attached to my special sports bras! My polka dotted Nike pro friend got me through my first long run, and I PRed in my orange Under Armour! With so many wonderful memories attached your sports bras, it can be hard to let go when they start to deteriorate. It’s important to remember, however, that they also have a really important job: holding up the girls! Especially if you have a larger chest, it is essential that you keep multiple supportive numbers on rotation, and replace your bras once they start to lose their elasticity to prevent bouncing and bruising. Another way you can preserve your sports bras is by washing them in cold water and avoiding the dryer.

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

3. Don’t be offended if a guy doesn’t seem excited about your latest PR.

This may just be my experience, but in the years that I have spent running and talking with other girls who run, guy runners don’t always understand girls running times as well as girls understand guy times. Of course, this is understandable, since male race times usually sound pretty impressive to girls and we tend not to forget them. If I were to hear that some high school guy ran a 14:50 on a cross-country course, I would probably be pretty impressed right away. If you have to spend a little more time explaining your latest 17:50 to your guy friends, though, don’t sweat it (and if that’s you, by the way, way to go!). There’s no harm in explaining to them how speedy you really are.

4. Gloves and hats are a must for winter running, especially for the female body.

I don’t know about you, but I almost always am plagued with blue lips and chilly shivers after cold winter runs. I always have to make sure to wear warm gloves and a fleece headband if its colder than 50 degrees outside. There are multiple biological reasons why women are more susceptible to cold than men. First, the hormone estrogen in the female body has a blood-thickening effect which causes more limited blood flow to our extremities. This explains frozen hands and toes! Additionally, since we typically have slightly lower muscle mass per pound of body weight, that means that we don’t have as much muscle tissue to generate heat while we exercise. So, with all this said, I definitely recommend investing in a warm pair of running gloves and a toasty headband! In my opinion, these two things, more than jackets and leggings, can help make winter running way more comfortable.

5. Running is creative movement, and it makes you a strong, awesome woman!

When I think of creative movement, the first thing that comes to mind is obviously dancing. I’m also a firm believer, however, that running itself is creative movement! Think about it. The trail or the sidewalk is your dance floor. Every time you take the stage, you get to choose where you go and how fast you get there. You get to pick an awesome costume, whether it’s your best tech gear or a turkey costume for your Thanksgiving day run. Your running friends make awesome partners, and together you make up an unstoppable squad! In the spirit of this beautiful, creative movement, I challenge you all to make a creative choice on your next run. Jump over a log, try a new route, take a friend with you, play sweet and sour with passersby, you name it! Just go out there, be creative, and remember how strong and capable you really are.

Well guys, thank you so much for stopping by EvenPace. Now that finals are over, I’m super excited to share lots of new content, so check back frequently! Happy running and happy holidays!

Runners of KC: Chris Cornell

Hello everybody! To start off my Runners of KC series, I recently had the opportunity to interview Chris Cornell, a former UMKC runner and the current manager of Gary Gribble’s Running Sports in Ward Parkway Center. We spoke about his running career, and he shared some of his favorite aspects of the Kansas City running scene. He really has a great perspective on going with the flow that’s refreshing to hear in the running community. Here are some highlights of the Q&A!

Q: When did you start running? What was your first race?

Cornell: I started running fairly early. My brother Tim was a four-time state champion in Missouri, but he was six years older than me. I saw him getting successful at running, and I was probably like, 12, so I was like, “Oh, I want to do that too!” I would say I ran my first race, which was the Jingle Bell run in Columbia, Missouri, probably around age 12 or 13, and then basically ended up running at Rock Bridge. (Home of the Bruins!)

Were you more of a track or a cross country guy?

I was a 1500m runner in college, and I loved the mile in high school, but like the team camaraderie and atmosphere in cross country I really loved. Now, the 5k distance is like my favorite race, so yeah I would say there are things I liked about both, but I definitely loved cross country more.

What was the best part of your high school running experience?

My senior year, we were third at state, and we had never placed in the top four, ever. We had a really special group…For us to place at state for the first time in school history was absolutely incredible. The boys team got second the next year, and Caleb (Wilfong) went on to win state, so that really just got the ball rolling…We felt like we built something that we really thought people wanted to be a part of.

What was the beginning of your college career like? (Chris ran for two years at UMKC)

When I got in, I was really low mileage, but I had a bit of speed. So, Clif, my coach my freshman year, started putting me in 1Ks indoor and the indoor 1500m, so immediately I kind of fell in place as a middle distance runner. Never really adapted to the 8k distance well in cross…I felt out of my element. It was just a grind. Three seasons, you know, it’s tough.

Running was going pretty well from my freshman to sophomore year…my sophomore year in outdoor track, I won a heat at Emporia State in the 800, and the next week at the KU relays…It felt like things were really falling into place a little bit.

Did you have any significant injuries? How did you recover?

I would say the biggest thing is mental. I only ran my first two years in college. That was this thing where I felt so done with running after my sophomore year that I couldn’t handle it anymore. I finished a run and I remember thinking, “Okay, that was my last run as a collegiate athlete.”

I tried to come back to running a little bit, but I always had this back and forth with running. It was like something that I loved, but it was giving me so much heartache and pain that I felt like I needed to move on from it.

I was talking to Scott MacPherson, who you know ran at the University of Arkansas before turning pro, and now he’s the Oofos rep. We were just kind of talking about his last workout. Obviously it’s his story to tell, but he was doing K repeats on the Mizzou track. He said he kinda just stopped and he knew. And I told him like it was not on the same level, but I had that exact same moment.

What is it that got you back to running after ending your collegiate running career?

I guess for the four or five years after I quit college running, I pretty much inconsistently continued to run. Unless I’m missing something little in there, like a beer mile or something, I’m pretty sure I took a 4-year hiatus from racing. 

What really brought me back to running though was I worked in Los Angeles for a little while in the music industry, and I was out of the running community…That’s when I realized that I missed it a lot, so I moved back to Kansas City and ended up coaching last year at UMKC. That just sparked it. Being back in the team environment was so great. I ran with the girl’s team a lot, and I was their coach, but they were also my best friends. Moving back into it all…it was like I had missed no time.

What types of races are you doing now and how are you active in the running community since being back in Kansas City?

So, I moved back to Kansas City and started working with the team (at UMKC). And then I started working at Gary Gribble’s Running Sports in Ward Parkway. Started out very part time, ended up working my way up, and I now manage the store. 

I started racing just because we would have packet pick-up at the store and I would be like, “That looks fun, I’ll just get a bib. I’ll throw one one.” I feel like my first good run back, like were I was actually racing was Trolley Run of last year, which was April 2017. I ended up running like 5:22 pace or something, and I felt really good. I’m like feeling like I’m somewhat back. I don’t know back to “what” or what I’m back “to”, but I’m back. 

What are your favorite Kansas City area races?

Trolley Run and Brew to Brew are probably my favorite, just because they’re pretty unique and I run the Trolley Trail all the time. Any time I need to find peace, like mentally, or anytime I just want to run where my body feels comfortable, I’ll always run on the Trolley Trail. (Chris mentioned a lot of other races as well which I will link at the bottom of the interview!)

How would you describe the running community in Kansas City in general?

Vibrant. Young, too. There are a lot of different running groups, there are a lot of different running coaches, there are a lot of different stores-I feel like people are finding identities all over the place. This morning I went to KC Endurance and ran on their treadmills. They have these really nice Woodway Treadmills and that was fun…I never like to play favorites with anybody in the community because there are so many different groups and people that can offer different things. It’s all so young and we’re finding new ways to build and help each other grow. All boats rise with the tide. 

Lightning Round!

After the main interview, I threw some fun, quick questions at Chris about his “running favorites”.

Q: Have you ever run in a costume for a race?

Cornell: I’ve worn weird stuff like a Canadian speed suit for a beer mile, but never a real costume.

Favorite running shoe?

I’m gonna say the Adidas Boston…I could never run in it again seriously, but it was a shoe that got me through a lot. 

Hot or cold weather?

Cold weather, for sure. If it’s a hot day, I’m gonna want to find a pool, have a margarita and not run. My favorite movie of all time is Rocky IV. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but he goes to Russia and trains in the snow. I often think about that when I’m running.

Morning or evening?

I run at all times of the day, but I feel like I prefer evening. I can go through the day and then running is like a way of meditating and thinking about the day.

What is your motivation?

People. Also, protecting my well-being as a person is motivation. Running gave me a sense of stability that I lacked for a long time. That’s what keeps me on track most of the time. The reason I love the store is because I can help people. People don’t usually come into running stores unless they have a problem, and then we can fix it for them.

Favorite race?

I’d probably say the 1500m heat I won at the KU relays my sophomore year. I just felt so good. That’s one I think about quite often.

Favorite post-run snack?

Beer. I like Boulevard but I also like KC Beer Co. I try to drink more light beer though, because craft beer is heavy. I think runners love beer because they appreciate the work that went into making it.

Flat course or hills?

Flat. I love a flat course. Trolley run is a downhill race.

Run alone or with friends?

Depends on the day but I like running with friends. If anybody asks me to run, chances are I will say yes.

If I didn’t run I…

I’d probably go crazy, but I’d also be active in other ways.

I can’t run without…

Feeling competitive. 

Pre-race routine?

I don’t really have one. Listen to some hip-hop, get in an angry mindset. Turn on some A$AP. Just put me on the line, and lets go.

What is the farthest you’ve ever run at one time?

17 miles.

Okay, the last and most important question…tucked or untucked?

Untucked! I’m a very go-with-the-flow, chill guy. Look good, feel good, race well. Just go for it.

I hope you enjoyed the first of many future installments to my “Runners of KC series”! I’d like to give a huge shout out to Chris for the awesome interview. Follow me on Bloglovin’ to stay in the loop about the latest on EvenPace!

*A few more great Kansas City Races that Chris mentioned include Santa Dash, Gobbler Grind, the Cliffhanger run, and the Ward Parkway Thanksgiving Day run.

Life update: one month since conference

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Hello readers! It has been almost a month since my cross country season ended, so I wanted to share with you all a little about what’s currently going on with me, especially because there is so much more to me than running! It feels like it has been an eternity since the season ended, and even though less than a month has passed, much has happened.

I’m studying to get my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in school right now, but as a freshman at a Jesuit university (which I absolutely love, by the way) that mostly entails the liberal arts. And wow, thank goodness the season ended when it did because things have been picking up around here! I have a ten page paper due Friday for philosophy, a speech to give next week on Wednesday, three more papers due next Thursday, and a test on Friday! The next week is finals week, which I am excited to conclude by going to my first NFL game with my boyfriend, Grant.

So, as you can see, school is currently my top priority, and that means that running is serving it’s much needed function of being a break from academics. I am also definitely a little out of shape, which is positive and to be expected coming off of two weeks of rest. That means I have lots of room for growth. I often think of my weeks off after the season as being like trimming a shrub. When you shear back a few branches, the plant will grow back stronger and fresher than before! Something that made a big difference for me in my rest weeks as well was that I made a point of lifting a ton of weights. I started to really enjoy lifting heavy, and while I did manage to bulk up in 2-3 weeks (mostly in the legs), I know that it’s now time to focus on getting lean again. A big struggle of mine has been accepting my muscular body. I’m not long and thin like many distance runners, but rather medium sized and solid, and that is just how my body is at its healthiest. My mom shared a string of tweets from runner Sarah True recently and I think she really explained it best.

I love True’s words on weight and strength because they remind me that my talent as a runner doesn’t come from how I look or how low the number is on the scale, but what I have accomplished and how I feel. The Emily I am now, the one that’s 5’4” and 125 pounds, is the same Emily that ran a 19:03 at Southern Stampede, and the same Emily that used to be 5’3” and 110 pounds and run 20:45 5ks. Plus, no matter how much I weigh, I’ll always love a good long run with my friends or Grant on his bike next to me!

As my roommate Sam would say, “And that’s the absolute tea, sis.”

With the season being over, my body clock has also changed drastically. I am working on not staying up until 1 am since I no longer have to wake up at 5:30 am! There are perks to staying up later, however, including the fact that I can drink coffee past 7 pm. Last night, I also got the privilege of hearing my friend’s testimony at a worship night that I usually don’t attend because it starts at 10 pm! Other things that have happened include the massive blizzard we had in Kansas City, (yes, I went out and played in the snow like the 5-year-old I truly am) and I have decided to go through sorority recruitment in the spring! I am also really looking forward to going home at the end of this semester to spend some quality time with my parents, my sister, and my dog.

So anyways, that’s just a little of what is going on in my world. I have decided to get rid of my runner essay contest and instead start a “Runners of Kansas City” series! If you or someone you know is an inspiring Kansas City runner, please email me or shoot me a message on Instagram so we can set up a time to talk! I would love to hear from you all.